DETROIT (FOX 2) – Sixty years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. gave one of the most famous speeches in U.S. history, declaring “I have a dream” to a massive crowd in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.
The content of that speech and the significance it carried in defining the American civil rights era is taught in schools. It’s also considered a defining chapter in America as it shaped the conversation around race and equality during a fraught time.
The spirit of that speech and the man who gave it lives on, especially in Metro Detroit, which has a close connection to MLK Jr.
Before King delivered his famous speech, he made a similar argument in Detroit where a crowd of 125,000 people walked down Woodward Avenue to the convention center. There, he’d give a speech titled The Walk to Freedom.
That is just a sliver of the history that Detroit and Southeast Michigan share with the civil rights era. Many of those moments will be on display during a flurry of events honoring both MLK Jr. and the movement he led on Monday.
Here’s some of what’s going on for MLK Jr. Day.
Dr. Martin Luther King: Birthday Celebration
Rev. Jesse Jackson will host the “Let Freedom Ring” event at the Fox Theatre in Detroit Monday.
At 4 p.m., the event will kick off to honor six individuals whose work has honored the legacy of MLK Jr. They include: Senior Pastor and Bishop Charles Ellis III, Michigan Running back Blake Corum, Vocalist Kem, Rev. Joann Watson of the West Side Unity Church, Rabbi Daniel Syme, and the humanitarian Shamayim ‘Mama Shu’ Harris.
The event will also feature Grammy-award winning artist Howard Hewett and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra Youth Ensembles.
Expect other political leaders to be in attendance too.
MLK Service Day
The cities of Royal Oak and Berkley will host a joint MLK Day event for both communities to honor the leader.
Both cities are invited to gather at Berkley High School at 2325 Catalpa Drive for a freedom walk and donation drive. The march begins at 9:30 a.m.
Then at 10:15 a.m., a service project begins at Berkley High School. Donations will also be collected for multiple groups, including:
- Redford Brightmoor Initiative
- Cass Community Social Services
- Judson Center
- Royal Oak First United Methodist
MLK Day Event Peace Walk in Southfield
Beginning at 9 a.m. in front of the Hope United Methodist Church in Southfield, the 38th annual celebration of Dr. King will commence.
The peace walk will be followed by the Taste Fest at 11 a.m. in the Southfield Pavilion at 26000 Evergreen Road.
20th Annual Detroit MLK Day Rally & March
Beginning at noon in front of the historic St. Matthew’s-St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church, the Detroit MLK Committee will put on its 20th annual march.
A rally and cultural performance is scheduled for 12 p.m. until 1:30. After that, the march will start at 1:45. Food will be served at 2:30 p.m.
MLK Fellowship Breakfast
Special guests Wendell Anthony and Vicky Winans will be at a special breakfast in Warren for MLK Jr. day. The civil rights figures will be speaking at the MLK Fellowship Breakfast, which begins at 9 a.m. and goes until noon.
Tickets cost $50.00 and the event will be at the MRCC Banquet Center at 23401 Mound Road.
2023 MLK Day at THE WRIGHT
The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History will put on its annual event commemorating MLK Jr. with a full slate of events, including the President’s Lecture Series at 4 p.m.
The schedule starts with the prayer breakfast at 8 a.m. and goes for three hours. It will feature a keynote address from Dr. Melba Joyce Boyd, who teaches at Wayne State University.
Workshops then begin at 11 a.m., featuring free educational programming like classes on poetry and social work.
A film chronicling racism in America will begin at 1 p.m. and include a lecture from the ACLU deputy legal director Jeffrey Robinson.
Finally, a lecture by Charles M. Blow who writes for the New York Times, who will will deliver a lecture at 4 p.m. in partnership with Detroit Public Television.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day at the Henry Ford
For much of Monday, The Henry Ford museum is putting on workshops that span small bits of work like making buttons to live performances of people reciting some of Dr. King’s most famous speeches.
There will also be special screenings of feature films called Amazing Grace and Boblo Boats: A Detroit Ferry Tale.